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3 Employee Tenure Trends Managers Should Know

  • HCM
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 02/09/2017

Employee tenure trends managers should know.
Employee tenure can be an important issue for businesses in regards to hiring and retaining top talent. Here is a closer look at how understanding employee tenure can help to engage and retain your team.

Table of Contents

Employee tenure is an important issue for both employers and their workforces. As employers struggle with employee retention, understanding tenure trends can help them formulate strategies to retain key workers and reduce negative attrition. A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found several key employee tenure trends in the U.S. workforce that can help companies better understand and react to the situation when hiring or taking steps to retain employees.

Researchers compared previous reports from 1983 and 2014 to the most recent data and discovered quite a few interesting trends. Here are three takeaways from that report that every manager and HR professional should know when focusing on employee retention strategies.

Overall Employee Tenure Has Declined

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that the overall median tenure of workers in January 2016 was 4.2 years, down from 4.6 years in January 2014. The data from 1983 showed a median tenure of 5.0 years. For employers, this raises an important question: why are people changing jobs and what can they do retain key employees? HR leaders can explore options that range from improving the competitiveness of their benefits and compensation to ensuring that employee recognition and empowerment are part of the culture. 

Both Male and Female Workers Are Impacted

In the 1950s it was a common goal for individuals to get a job and stay with it throughout the course of their life. Workers often made a career at the same company if it was possible. Tenure for men declined to 4.3 years from 4.7 during the period from 2014 to 2016. This reinforces the reality that employees aren't spending their entire career with one employer–or in many cases, even a single decade. Just 29 percent of male workers had 10+ years tenure with their current employer according to the 2016 data. Female workers exhibited similar trends, with tenure declining from 4.5 years in 2014 to 2.0 in 2016 and just 28 percent of women having tenure over 10 years with their employers. Employee retention strategies must reach across different demographics and focus on the entire enterprise.

The Role of Career Stages and Life Events on Tenure

Two factors that may impact tenure are different career goals and stages. This could include stages such as entry level, senior roles, leadership, and preparing for retirement. Managers should pay attention to where their employees are in their career stages as well as understand their personal career goals in order to better predict the employees who may leave so they can take proactive steps to retain certain talent. In particular, the data showed that older workers were more likely to hold longer-term median tenures than their younger counterparts. This points to the importance of providing clear opportunities and retention strategies for Millennials, as well as considering how your more mature workers can be leveraged as a consistent competitive advantage.

Employee tenure remains a hot topic. In general, employers can expect a tenure of around five years when accounting for a wide variety of factors. From planning your hiring cycle and succession planning to developing retention strategies to combat negative turnover and be prepared for replacing certain talent as employees leave the workforce, being armed with these insights can help put HR leaders in the driver's seat to reduce unnecessary and expensive employee attrition. It's often possible to retain your top performers as well as have appropriate succession plans in place with advanced planning.



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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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